1/2/13 Thankful for An Unexpected Conversation

1/2: Thankful for today’s unexpected conversation and communication. Sometimes it takes pain and loss to truly value and appreciate who and what (physical & mental health, not materialistic things) you have in your life. I hadn’t been a good friend and I missed being that for him. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to do better.

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Honoring Your Value Even In The Valley Of Darkness

“Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are in essence ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you and destroying your design.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

It has been a little over six months since my last post and I’m so embarrassed considering the premise behind me starting this blog….making time to do at least two things a day for one’s self.  I have failed miserably at my own challenge.  I will admit that I have thought many times since September about writing but quite honestly the only reason why I haven’t written is because I simply didn’t make the time.  In the past week or so my need to write has become one that I couldn’t ignore and will share about in my next post.  But this post stems from what started out as a simple one sentence email.  The simplicity with which that sentence was structured was a language that I personally connected with, one that I have spoken many times before.  It’s what wasn’t said in those 25 words that I understood.  Prior to the email the sender and I would have been classified more as ‘acquaintances’ because we were connected by a common surface thread, with little personal intimacy.  If you were to ask me about them I would have had nothing but favorable things to say, based on our interactions and I’m sure they would have done the same for me (or at least I would hope so :-D). 

In my reply, I responded to what wasn’t being said with my personal truth.  The details in the series of emails that followed I will not share.  However, one similarity we share is in not adequately valuing our worth.  Quite frankly, there were times when we undersold, mis-marketed, degraded, and underappreciated our own selves.  It wasn’t a planned process, more like a potentially fatal side effect of life that many people experience.  Constantly doing for others (children, spouse, family, friends, etc.), trying to satisfy people’s perception of who we are, and trying to only allow people to see the animated G rated version of what was at times a R rated film.  It took being scared of ourselves because of some thought, action or idea, to realize how deep in the valley of darkness we were. 

But what does not appreciating your value look like?  I’m a very visual person and am able to better understand if I can paint a picture, so as my pastor would say, “walk with me for a little while”…..

Imagine you are teleported directly to the inside of a beautiful home.  The interior is well laid out with just the right amount of space you need.  It is decorated in a style that perfectly suits you and more importantly, it is built on a solid foundation.  Of course there are repairs or changes that need to be made because no house is without flaws, but this house is perfect just for you.  So you decide to see what it looks like on the outside and proceed to walk out into the front yard.  From the street, this property has great curb appeal because of its well manicured lawn, flowers and shrubs that nicely accentuate the yard and the brick exterior of the house is architecturally stunning and very inviting.  As you make your way to the backyard you approach a high, closed wooden fence.  On the other side of this fence, the view in the back isn’t as appealing as the inside and front of the property.  There is a swimming pool that only has about a foot of water that has been polluted by dirt, leaves, fallen branches and old sports balls that were never recovered.  The back of the house is covered in siding with patches of mold and scum.  There is an old car that works when it wants to, even after numerous attempts to make repairs.  On the faded, wooden deck sits patio furniture that is discolored from years sitting in the sun and cushions flattened from trying to provide comfort while people sat.  Towards the back of the yard is a rusty old swing set that looks more like the Tower of Pisa.  And in the far left corner sits a tool shed that is full of stuff that hasn’t been opened in years. 

From the front, this property appears to be worth way more than the appraisal value.  Those items in the back significantly bring down the value of the property.  But, to bring up the property value, the solution seems simple; remove the junk, clean the pool, fix the deck and buy new furniture.  But if you are as emotionally depleted as the pool is drained of water, taking on the much needed task to get things back in order seems like an impossible one to achieve.  So you let things continue to accumulate, adding no value or further bringing down the value. 

The image of this property is what our lives looked like if captured in a picture.  The car was something that at one time was very reliable, got us where we needed to go, had all of the bells and whistles we wanted and kept us safe during our travels.  But after unsuccessful attempts to have it fixed, what is the purpose of keeping it?  Is the physical structure what we’re really holding onto, or is it the memories of what once was and holding out hope that what once was, will again someday be?  If the furniture cushions aren’t providing the support you need, why keep them?  Why keep a non-functioning swing set around?  If it isn’t stable or safe, what purpose does it serve for the children?  The mostly empty pool is an emotional reflection of what is left when you are constantly serving as a filter.  In not wanting the dirty to seep through and be seen by others, you are holding onto all of the grime with minimal amounts of water not being filtered through.  And what about the tool shed that has been closed so long that you don’t even remember what’s inside?  What’s the worst thing that could happen if you took a look inside?  You might find something that once use to be a source of great joy, a project that you started to pass down to your children when they got older or the materials needed to clean and fill the pool with water that will soothe your burning skin on those blistering summer days.  Or you might find the shed is full of worthless junk occupying space that could and should be filled with purposeful things that increase your value.

For some people, it’s not what is behind the fence that is bringing down their value.  Sometimes it’s your neighbor(s).  Neighbors aren’t as easy to manage as guests that you allow/invite into your space.  With guests, you can ask them to leave or just not invite them over again.  Since your neighbor is a fixed part of your neighborhood, you can’t always avoid them, but you can limit your interactions to those random encounters or when absolutely necessary.  Everyone isn’t meant to be in your life forever, and that is ok.  During the course of a friendship/relationship, needs and wants may change.  There are times when an ‘inventory’ needs to occur so that you can identify and properly classify those top shelf people in your life down to the daily house specials. 

People pay millions of dollars for materialistic objects that sometimes sit behind glass or on a wall and literally do nothing.  It’s sad that some of us don’t recognize or forget the priceless value for the unique, one of a kind, original that is us.

“If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.” ~ Unknown